Searching for health information on the Internet often results in receiving hundreds of sites. An evaluation of these results may be helpful to identify credible, timely and safe information. The following questions help you make a basic evaluation of the information.
Who is responsible for the site?
Can you identify the sponsor? Are they trustworthy (e.g., hospitals, government, well-known health organization)? The address may also show who the sponsor is - .gov for government, .edu for educational institution, .org for an organization, .ca for Canadian source, .com for a commercial company (exceptions exist)
What is the purpose of the web site and information provided?
Is the purpose to inform, to advertise or to push an opinion? The purpose might be written in their home page or mission vision statement in "about us" page.
Is there any bias or conflict about the purpose and the content?
The purpose of the site may look like it is providing health information, but the real purpose might be marketing cheap or non-approved alternative medicines/treatments. Is the information impartially presented? Does the site link to other good sources of medical information?
How current is the information?
Usually web sites will show when information was last added. Health information changes constantly as new information from research is published. Check for broken links – a good list should be constantly updated.
To learn more about the evaluating health information on the Internet, go to the sites below:
Dalhousie University - Evaluation of Health Information on the Internet
National Cancer Institute - How To Evaluate Health Information on the Internet: Questions and Answers
US Food and Drug Administration - How to Evaluate Health Information on the Internet
MedlinePlus - Guide to Healthy Web Surfing